Editor’s Note: This piece includes reporting and editing from many members of the Chronicle including Emily Hunt, Molli Brown, Ella Lyford, Jenna Mekkelsen, Noah McLane, Harmon Ohalon, Bailey Morse, Cameron Edson, Claire Thompson, Jasmine Toro, Nora Dillon, Evan Hinchliffe, Eva Jessup, and Madison O’Kelly.

A few yards away from our current flagpole, four snow-dusted orange cones connected with yellow caution tape mark the beginning of construction on a new flagpole. The newer and taller flagpole will fly the American and Vermont flags. The Black Lives Matter flag will remain on the current flagpole, which will become a flagpole reserved for the flags of student groups. 

According to Jody Emerson, the decision to build a new flagpole was a result of concerns brought to the school by community members. Some felt that it is improper flag etiquette to fly the BLM flag on the same pole as the American flag. 

The U-32 school board discussed the issue last year and two solutions were suggested: display the BLM flag somewhere else, such as the Atrium, or put up a second flagpole. The decision was ultimately left up to the U-32 administration.

The school’s decision to relegate the BLM flag to a pole dedicated only to student groups has not been received well by everyone. Bruce Pandya recently wrote an editorial calling the new flagpole “cowardice of the highest order”.

The heated discourse about the new flagpole is just a glimpse into the dialogue that has been taking place at U-32 over the past two years revolving around the boundaries of student activism and the school’s role in political divides. 

 

Read:

U-32’s Confederate Flag Debate      June 2019

“You can’t let them be consuming”: Hate Symbols at U-32  April 2019

“Walking a fine line”: Politics in the Classroom  April 2019

Did the Chronicle Cross the Line? The Limits of Free Speech November 2018

“It’s a double-edged sword”: U-32’s Flag Policy Debate September 2018

The Black Lives Matter Flag: 24 Voices June 2018

U-32’s BLM Flag: The Story So Far April 2018

“I felt everyone looking at me”: Students of Color March 2018

 

This collection of perspectives explores the most recent chapter of the discussion: the debate about the proposed ban on hate symbols like the Confederate Flag at U-32. 

At its November 6th meeting, the school board seemed reluctant to support the most recent proposed ban from Seeking Social Justice (SSJ). The board policy committee is meeting with SSJ Tuesday, November 26 for further discussion.

**Update 12/5/2019

The school board rejected the ban and proposed this resolution instead:

“WCSUUD strives to create a learning environment conducive to student achievement, creativity, and exploration. An environment in which students use their opportunities to experience their power to experience their power to create and change themselves and their environment. Hate symbols indefensibly dishonor those goals. Yet, free speech values protect, but do not extol, the right to be wrong. Censorship may punish or suppress hurtful speech but it does not change minds.

 

To unwaveringly protect all student’s rights to a conducive educational environment, it is the policy of the WCSUUD Board that administrative officials vigorously and promptly enforce our Prevention of Harassment, Hazing, and Bullying Policy to thwart and respond to the undeniably harmful effects with which hate symbols sully our educational policy”